Craig Calcaterra

fleetwood mac rumors

Why do people make up fake trade rumors anyway?


One of the weirder parts of the offseason are the fake news reports and rumors. I don’t mean when a journalist saying something that doesn’t come to pass or seems far-fetched. I mean completely phony reports made up from whole cloth. They’re especially weird when they come from someone who has created a fake Twitter account designed to look like an actual reporter’s.

Why would anyone do that? What do they possibly hope to gain? And how do the real reporters feel about that?

Over at The Hardball Times today, Kyla Wall-Polin attempts to answer that question. She tracked down a couple of fakers and a reporter who has been impersonated and asked what the heck gives. I highly recommend reading the whole thing to get the odd flavor of this little corner of baseball media and fandom, but I’ll say that this sort of stuck out to me:

Greg didn’t strike me as a particularly bad person, just a bored dude trying to amuse himself on the Internet.

I think that explains most of the weird and/or bad stuff on the Internet, actually. It certainly applies here.

DHS briefed the owners on ballpark security and it was predictably depressing

Metal Detector

Beginning in 2015, something new came to very major league ballpark: metal detectors. A handful of parks had them the year before, but in one of his last acts as Commissioner, Bud Selig ordered every team to either install walkthrough metal detectors or place security staff with wands at every gate. 

The reasons for the metal detectors are somewhat murky. My assumption is that they were primarily inspired by the Boston Marathon bombing, which I suppose is understandable on a certain level. It’s worth noting, of course, that a marathon does not have gates like stadiums do and that ballparks have long had people visually inspecting bags which would, presumably, have identified the types bombs the Boston attackers used.

It’s also the case that there have been no terrorist threats or acts at major league ballparks of which the public is aware. No one has come in and pulled a knife or a gun or has otherwise done anything that the presence of a metal detector would’ve prevented. In light of this many experts have, quite understandably, criticized the ballpark metal detectors as “security theater” which could, perversely, create a dangerous situation in the form of thousands of people bunched up outside of stadiums, attention focused elsewhere, in a location that, by definition, is outside of the security perimeter. Some might even call that a target-rich environment. 

But onward we forge into the post-9/11 world where we spend an awful lot of time fearing fear itself. Against that backdrop, last week at the owners meetings Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson briefed the assembled owners. And quotes like this spun out of the meeting:

“There’s got to be more security than there is now. I don’t know what it will be,”Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said Wednesday. “Everybody realizes that the world has changed and these people are never going to give up, so we have to give up some of our comforts.”

Translated: we have no idea what the threat is or if there is one and we have no idea what to do about it, but dammit, we’re going to do something.

Obviously people are hyper-aware of security and I don’t wish to minimize the danger posed by an individual determined to cause violence. But it’s also the case that when this topic comes up people in charge tend to skim right past logical threat assessment and expert-informed countermeasures and immediately move to the easiest-to-implement and, usually, most inconvenience-inducing means of providing security. Or attempt to at least. And you read things like this:

According to [Marlins president David] Samson, Johnson told the group a stadium could be 100 percent secure if additional steps were taken, such as prohibiting fans from bringing any bags and eliminating food and food-services workers. Checking the trunks and bottoms of cars entering parking lots outside ballparks could be another step discussed at some point.

I presume — and sincerely hope — that the context of those comments was “hey, we can’t be 100% safe and the only way to do that would be to do these crazily insane things and obviously we’re NOT doing that, ha ha ha.” But we live in an age when we all take our shoes off at the airport and do all manner of other silly things that do nothing to actually enhance security, and we never question it. And we get fearful quotes from guys like Reinsdorf which seem to imply that, yes, unless we are 100% safe we’re going to worry like crazy.

Would it honestly shock you if some the things mentioned in that paragraph were implemented? Maybe cutting food service is not going to happen — there’s too much money in that — but I could see them cutting out bags or outside food and drink. I could see them banning tailgating at parks which have it. I could see them firing or discriminating against stadium workers of a certain ethnic or religious background. I can see them imposing “security surcharges” to tickets to pay for those metal detectors or new security staff at parking lot entrances. I could see them starting some form of TSA Precheck, but for season ticket holders, which would allow them to bypass all of this mess for a mere $79.99 a year.

Indeed, I predict the measures which would be claimed as necessary to keep us safe would likewise serve to increase ballpark and club revenue in some 100% unintended and, really, unanticipated ways which are totally beside the point and how dare you even think that such ulterior motives could exist?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my flight and I need to pick up a $4.00 bottle of water at the gift shop past the security gate. It’s so great that those are there now that we can’t bring our own.

It’s utterly meaningless to say “teams have spent $2 billion on free agents”


I just read Jon Morosi’s latest column over at Fox. Don’t feel obligated to do so yourself, as it’s about how the Royals won because they have great chemistry and you can tell that they have great chemistry because they won. It’s Friday, man. I don’t have the energy to parse the nonsense in that and I doubt you do either.

But the lede is pretty interesting. He starts his column off with this: “Major League Baseball teams have spent more than $2 billion on free agents this winter, according to”

I’ve seen a lot of other reporters mentioning that figure, tweeting it and tracking it as the offseason has worn on. Sometimes with aggregations of years:


Sometimes there are only partial numbers:


Sometimes it’s parroted in a manner which takes the form of a compete and total non-sequitur:

I’m not sure how that last dude can say they’re “doing well.” Indeed, I can’t for the life of me figure out what these figures are supposed to tell us. Two billion is a big number, I guess, but to frame it the way it’s framed above is utterly meaningless.

The gross free agent expenditure is a numerator with no denominator, for starters. How many player contracts does that cover? It covers lots of contracts of wildly-varying lengths too, yes? Also, where does that stand historically? Is that a lot? It’s probably more than last year because salaries tend to rise, but maybe not depending on that denominator. And if more, how much more? Have raises increased or decreased? What’s the graph look like? Also: how does that $2 billion — even if it were even remotely moored to a reference point — compare to baseball revenues? Are the owners making more too? How much more? How do these free agent expenditures relate to overall expenditures?

We never get great answers to those questions and, as such, these sorts of numbers are worth nothing.

Indeed, they’re worse than nothing. They’re a form of subtle propaganda. Perhaps not intentionally so, as I don’t think the reporters cited above mean it in this way, but it certainly serves baseball owners’ interests to have that $2 billion figure out there, floating in the ether. It plays directly into “those players are FILTHY STINKIN’ RICH” sentiments which owners have always used in the grand P.R. game against the players. In less than a year the players are going to be bargaining for things like a higher minimum salary or more friendly arbitration and free agent compensation terms. As all past bargaining has gone, public sentiment will play an indirect role in things, as each side tries to sell its particular brinksmanship strategy to the fans. The owners have always cried poor and have always tried to paint the players as rich and greedy. This helps that cause.

I realize there isn’t a lot of news happening in January and that big shiny figures are fun to repeat, but this stuff is misleading in the extreme. And, like so much else related to the economic side of baseball, it is distinctly slanted against the players in such a way as to make them look like they’re spoiled rotten for making a few billion across a couple of thousand employees.

Meanwhile, precious little scrutiny is ever directed at 30 men who own baseball teams and rake in several billion more by virtue of the players’ labor.